(After his nomination for Boogie Nights (1997)): My being nominated this year is no comeback story because I simply refused to go away.
(On Dinah Shore): One of the greatest ladies I ever knew was Dinah Shore and she taught me right away if you can't laugh at yourself, you have no business in this business. If I have any class (and that's probably debatable) it's due to Dinah.
(On the stunt scenes he did for his thriller Crazy Six (1998)): I told them, "Look, I can do this. I can still fall; I just can't get up!" But the character is dead, anyway!
(on Deliverance (1972) author/co-star James Dickey): "He's the kind of man that, after he has had 4 martinis, makes you want to drop a grenade down his throat."
Marriage is about the most expensive way for the average man to get laundry done.
(On his character in his upcoming movie Waterproof (1999)): He's a 73-year-old Jewish grocery store owner on a street that's entirely African-American. He's the only holdout. He's not moving. Tough old guy. I'm finding out to my own surprise, that I can do things I didn't think I could.
(on the rape scene of Deliverance (1972) (from the book "My Life" published by Hyperion.)): The day before we shot the scene I noticed McKinney hovering beside Ned (Ned Beatty) and sat down between them. I wanted him to see I was Ned's friend. No different than in the script. Then I asked him how he planned to handle the rape scene. McKinney turned out to be a pretty good guy who just took the method way too far. Staring straight at Ned, he whispered, "I've always wanted to try that. Always have." Ned shouted, "John! Oh, John!". In his brilliance, Boorman (John Boorman) reassured Ned but also brought in several additional cameras, knowing Ned wasn't going to give him a second, third or fourth take. Ned was only going to do the brutal scene once. When it came down to shooting it, Cowboy and McKinney were hands-down brilliant. Scared the shit out of everybody who saw the movie. People crawled out of the theatre. None of that creepy "squeal, piggy, piggy" stuff was in the script. But McKinney, I swear-to-God, really wanted to hump Ned. And I think he was going to. He had it up and he was going to bang him. It's the first and only time I have ever seen camera operators turn their heads away. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. I ran into the scene, dove on McKinney, and pulled him off. Boorman, hot on my tracks, helped hold him down. Ned, who was crying from both rage and fear, found a big stick and started beating him on the head. Half a dozen guys grabbed Ned and pulled him away. We separated the two of them and let things cool off.
(when asked about happiness): I am happy. I was just talking to a very savvy casting director, who's been around for a long time, who said, "I'm so happy for you!" and I knew he was. I said, I wish this would never end. I wish there was never an award, a rush party, I don't want to join the fraternity. I just wanna go on with the rush part.
(On his comeback): If you hold on to things long enough, they get back into style. Like me.
(On his Oscar nomination): I'm stunned that I'm in this category, which I think is the toughest category, but then why shouldn't I? It's my category. But there are guys there that, it's not bad enough that there's brilliant actors, but one's that been knighted, you know? It's unbelievable to me. And George C. Scott is right, unless we all played the same role, it really isn't quite fair. I may streak again. I have no idea what my reaction will be, all I know is I'll go in with no expectations.
(On his money setbacks): I trusted my manager with my money during my illness. Now I was broke. Money woes stayed with me. I grabbed whatever pictures were offered. Admittedly films like Malone (1987), _Rent-A-Cop (1987)_ and Switching Channels (1988) all made between the end of 1986 and the middle of 1987, helped my bank account. But they were making me part of an endangered species, an old actor. However, there are times when you can be artistic, and times when you have to be realistic.
(on Paul Thomas Anderson): "Most filmmakers today have no sense of the history of our business, but he knows every shot John Ford made. And he doesn't lack for confidence. He really knew which shots he wanted to make. I remember the first shot in Boogie Nights (1997), which is one of the longest shots in history. And I, being the irascible old type I am sometimes, said, 'Have you timed this? Is this longer than Citizen Kane (1941) ?' And he said, 'Oh, yes. It's three seconds longer.'"
(On his character on The Crew (2000/I)): I knew which character I wanted to play because I understand this guy very well. He goes from being perfectly sane to, within a quarter of a second, choking you to death and banging your head against the floor. I've played wise-guys before, but I've never played a wise-guy who is as demented. There's a reason why they call him 'Bats'.
(On his longtime fans): First of all, it's usually a sea of blue hair and I'm grateful and thankful that they're still alive and around. I hope they understand that they are responsible for true joy. But the people in the seats were saying, put him in there, and those are the ones that, if I ever win anything, they are more responsible than any producer in Hollywood, because, they never, never walked away.
I am beginning to think there's alot of nice people around in this business.
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